EFFECT OF EXAMINATION STRESS ON CORTISOL LEVEL AND ANTHROPOMETRIC VARIABLES: ABDOMEN FAT DISTRIBUTION AND BODY MASS INDEX AMONG UNIVERSITY STUDENTS
Mohamed Ebsaim*, Marwa Algotre, Fatima Omar, Ahlam Alazumi and Fatima Faruon
Background: Examination stress has become an important issue in academic circle, particularly among university students. It is considered as crucial factor in increasing the level of circulating cortisol hormone which in turn has an effect on the changes in body form such as abdomen fat distribution and BMI among academic students. Objective: To investigate whether the academic examination stress affects the cortisol levels and stress-related changes in body form, particularly abdomen fat distribution and body mass index among university students. Methods: Forty-one students (14 males and 27 females) aged 18 to 23years were selected from Zawia University faculty of medical technology to perform this study. Cortisol level was measured at the beginning of the academic semester and 12 weeks later during the examination period using Cabas e411 analyser. Abdomen fat distribution determined by waist to hip ratio (WHR) and BMI were measured pre, during and post the exams period. Results: Serum cortisol increased significantly during the exams (P<0.01) in all students. The changes in WHR and BMI showed significant result P<0.01 among most students during and after the exams. However, no significant different observed in WHR among boys. There was significant correlation between cortisol and WHR (P<0.01), and between the cortisol and BMI (P<0.05) among students during the exams period. Change in cortisol secretion during the exams period was positively associated with changes in WHR and BMI among students. Conclusion: Academic examination stress was implicated in increasing the hyperactivity of cortisol secretion, which has been shown to increase central fat and weight gain in students during and post the exams period.
Keywords: Stress, University Students, Cortisol Level, Waist-To-Hip Ratio (WHR) and Body Mass Index (BMI).
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